Friday, August 31, 2012

Reader Email: Blacking Out Your Slides Without Telling the AV Tech

While presenting, it can be very helpful to occasionally black out the screen (either by pressing the "blackout" key on your remote control or creating a slide with a solid fill black background) so the audience can focus on what you are saying and not your slides. 

However, not everyone is used to seeing slides blacked out.  One of my coaching clients emailed me the following story of what happened when the AV tech saw a black screen during his presentation. 

I thought you would get a kick out of this.  I was presenting yesterday in Hong Kong in front of about 60 people for a major investment banking firm.  At one point in my presentation, I used the remote slide advancer to black out the screen so I could discuss a topic in more detail without the distraction of the slide.  I had walked away from my laptop to get closer to the audience. 

After about a minute of talking, I turned around to see their A/V guy working feverishly on my laptop.  I politely walked over to him and asked what he was doing.   He said “fixing your computer.”  He had shut down my presentation and opened Windows display settings because he thought there was a problem.  I took over and after a few minutes got the presentation working again.  I learned a valuable lesson.

So remember to let the AV tech know if you are going to black out your slides.  And congratulations to my client for keeping his cool!

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Connecting to a Changing Workforce: Multigenerational Engagement (ASTD-SCC 9/24)

Connecting to a Changing Workforce: Multigenerational Engagement
American Society for Training & Development - Southern CT chapter meeting (ASTD-SCC)
Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, 5:45-8:00 PM

  • Monica Walters, Executive Director of Learning & Development, Cengage (previously Thomson Learning)
  • Will Ruch, CEO/Managing Partner, Versant.

An unprecedented number of workers from four generations are working alongside one another and bringing their own values, goals and communication approaches to the workplace. Given the generational dynamics in the workplace affect morale, productivity, recruitment and retention, how does an organization optimize productivity from all workers? Learn how Cengage worked with Versant to train their managers and employees to overcome generational barriers.

Attend this interactive session to learn:

  • Differences among generations currently in the workforce and what to expect in the future
  • How Cengage addressed these challenges
  • Tips for what you could do to engage millennials and future workers

Date: Monday, Sept 24, 2012
Networking: 5:45 PM
Dinner Served: 6:30 PM
Program: 6:45-8 PM

Hosted by the Southern CT chapter of the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD-SCC) at the Norwalk Inn and Conference Center, 99 East Avenue, Norwalk CT 203-838-2000

Members: $35
Non-Members: $50
Students: $20

To register or for more information, visit

Monica Walters is the Executive Director, Learning and Development for Cengage Learning. In this role, Monica is responsible for learning and development and talent management initiatives for the organization. Prior to Cengage Learning, Monica held senior positions in learning and development with Terex Corporation, Prudential Financial and MasterCard.

Will Ruch is CEO/Managing Partner of Versant, which specializes in employee communications that align employees and drive results. Will has helped to establish Versant’s special practice, VERSANT/WORKS, as a leader in Generational Workforce issues and strategies for the recruiting and retention of high-performing employees. In addition to Thomson Reuters, Will has also worked with Xerox, Northwestern Mutual Insurance, Lincoln Financial and Kohl’s Department Stores.
Gilda Bonanno's blog

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Add Muscle to Your Message From Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Check out Lynn Gaertner-Johnston's recent Business Writing blog post, Adding Muscle to Your Message, for tips that can also be applied to your presentations:

1. Reduce the use of sentence openers such as "There is" and "These are." Compare these sentence pairs:
  • There is something you need to consider.
  • Consider this:
  • There are people listed on the roster who did not attend.
  • Not everyone on the roster attended.

Read the post here:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

NSA-CT Speaker Academy October 20, 2012

NSA-CT Speaker Academy

Speaker Academy is a one day information packed event that includes professional video feedback and guidance.

October 20, 2012
9:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Mercy Center at Madison
167 Neck Road
Madison, CT 06443

This event is designed for people who want to learn more about one of the most powerful but often overlooked business tool you can possess -- the ability to influence and persuade audiences and colleagues. Speaker Academy has been designed to show professionals and beginners alike the necessary skills that can make you stand out in today’s competitive business climate.

$125.00 Member Attendance Speaker-U
$99.00 Earlybird rate before September 24

Gilda Bonanno's blog


Monday, August 6, 2012

3 Ways NOT to Start Your Presentation

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

The first few minutes of your presentation are some of the most important – when you have the opportunity to make a good first impression and capture the audience’s attention.

Here are 3 ways NOT to start your presentation:

1.    Endless Thank yous
 “Thanks for having me here.  Thanks to Joe for inviting me and to Mary for handling all the logistics.  And thanks to the meeting committee – Harry, Rajiv, Bill and Jeannie – for their cooperation.  And thanks to the hotel for hosting us today in this very nice room.  And thanks to the meeting sponsor for their support of the meeting today.  And thanks to all of you for attending. “

It’s fine if you want to thank your hosts and the audience, but don’t spend too much time on it.  If you have a long list of people to thank, incorporate it into the body of your presentation, include it in your handout or mention it at the end of your presentation, before your conclusion.

2.    Sound Check
“Can you hear me in the back?”

While it’s crucial to ensure the audience can hear you, the start of your presentation is not necessarily the time to do it.  If you’re truly concerned about voice volume, practice in the room before your presentation and have someone stand at the back of the room to determine if they can hear you.

If you know you speak softly, then request a microphone and if one is not available, make a point of speaking louder. 

If you’re still worried about your volume, have the meeting organizer stand at the back of the room and give you a signal to let you know if you can be heard easily.

(And by the way, if people can’t hear you, they also can’t hear you ask, “can you hear me?”)
3.    I’m Bored Already
“I know this is a boring topic, so I’ll try my best not to put you to sleep.”

If you can’t muster up enough enthusiasm about your topic to start on a positive and energetic note, there’s no hope that the audience will care about your topic.

While it may be true that the audience doesn’t initially find your topic as interesting as you do, it’s your responsibility to explain why it’s important and interesting. 
Your enthusiasm is contagious – as is your lack of enthusiasm. I’ve seen speakers successfully convey enthusiasm and capture the attention and imagination of audience members who might have otherwise been bored by the topics, such as finance, physics and economics.
Instead of wasting precious time at the start of your presentation, you can jump right into your content with a strong statement of your message, a startling statistic, an interesting fact or a relevant story.  A strong opening will help you capture the audience’s attention and draw them into your topic.

Gilda Bonanno's blog

Thursday, August 2, 2012

3 Ways NOT to End Your Presentation

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

The last few minutes of your presentation are important - when you have the final opportunity to make your point and leave a lasting impression on the audience.

Here are 3 ways NOT to end your presentation:

1.    “Any questions…?”
First of all, don’t ask for questions if you don’t really want to answer any or there is no time for them.

Secondly, if you ask for questions and there aren’t any, you are ending with an uncomfortable silence.

Thirdly, even if there are questions, you want to have a final conclusion after answering questions, so you stay in control of the presentation and have the last word

2.    Endless Thank-yous
Like your opening, your conclusion is not the place to list out every last person to thank.  Either thank a few people briefly, before your conclusion or incorporate the longer list into the body of your presentation or include it in your handout

3. Weak Non-verbals  (shrug your shoulders, voice trailing off….)
“Uh, so that’s my presentation…”

“Well, that’s pretty much it…”

If you mumble your final words or let your voice trail off, the audience will be unsure whether you’re done.  And you will have missed your chance to end strongly.

Your words and non-verbals should demonstrate confidence.  Your final sentence should have a definitive conclusion, whether it ends with a period, exclamation point or question mark.  Smile, stand tall, keep making eye contact, keep your voice strong and clearly enunciate all the words to the end of the sentence.  You want your audience to know that you’re done and to remember what you’ve said.

Here are examples of good (and simple) endings:

“That has been my journey to minimize fuel surcharges in the eastern region.”

“The bottom line is that I recommend we move on this opportunity before the end of the month to maintain our competitive advantage.”

“In conclusion, remember that public speaking is a skill that is essential to your career – and since it’s a skill, you can practice and improve it.”

Gilda Bonanno's blog